Vietnam has an incredible amount to offer as a family holiday destination. It’s fun, full of adventure, and offers stunning scenery. It’s also a very affordable place for a holiday, normally the main expense is getting there.
However, it is essential to do your homework before setting off. Overall, the facilities are not very child-friendly which makes traveling with very young children very difficult. There are locations which offer excellent facilities of course, but parents should make sure they know exactly what to expect before arriving.
For slightly older children (8 or over) and teenagers, there are so many outdoor activities to enjoy. Cycling, kayaking, hiking, and snorkeling are just a few of the fun things to do in Vietnam. There are also breathtaking beaches, boat rides, pony-trekking, markets, and out-of-this-world restaurants.
This guide will explain what family activities you can enjoy in Vietnam, the best places to go, the best time of year to set off.
Things to Do in Vietnam with Children
Vietnam is full of opportunities for family fun and adventures. There are also some attractions which you should avoid. Zoos and animal parks might seem like child-friendly places, but the animals are often kept in poor conditions and are visibly distressed which is upsetting to see.
There are a number of ethical, educational centers, such as Cuc Phuong’s Primate Rescue Centre, where children can see rare, endangered species which are under protection.
Here are some of the most popular things to do with kids in Vietnam:
There are countless places to go kayaking in Vietnam though it’s particularly popular in Halong Bay, a stunning UNESCO Heritage site (which can become over-crowded). It’s best to find one of the smaller bays to rent kayaks to avoid large crowds and stress.
Cave system boat ride
There are numerous places where you can go on a boat ride through ancient cave systems which were slowly created over thousands of years. Kids love the excitement of going through dark tunnels and the scenery is magnificent. One popular place to board is at Hoa Lu (the ancient capital just south of Hanoi).
The Cu Chi Tunnels
The Chi Chi tunnels have a fascinating, disturbing history, but thankfully younger children don’t take in the more harrowing aspects of the stories. Instead, they enjoy searching the forest floor for the entrance to the tunnels (which is almost impossible!) and crawling through the spooky, dark passages. The great thing is that the experience offers something for all ages.
Theme parks and water parks
They hardly provide a cultural experience but there’s no doubt, kids love them! There are many to visit and nowadays it’s easy to find online reviews to make sure you avoid the more suspect parks. Suoi Tien, near Ho Chi Minh City, is a weird and wonderful place that is great for families.
One of the best places to do this is in Hoi An. You can jump on a boat that weaves through some narrow channels where you can try catching some crabs in the Vietnamese style. You switch into a circular basket boat and paddle into the groves of bamboo water and try to catch the purple crabs.
What is the Best Time to Go on a Family Holiday to Vietnam
When to go to Vietnam is an important consideration for families. The weather is characterized by the monsoon season which affects each region differently.
The peak tourist season runs from December to March and these are great months to visit. The summer months are uncomfortably hot and humid, especially for young children.
Vietnam is over 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) long so the weather varies. here are the best times to visit each region:
North Vietnam: It is possible to visit the north for most of the year as the temperatures and humidity levels are relatively low. June to September are the hot, sticky months to avoid.
Central Vietnam: Central Vietnam is hot all year round. November to April are the drier, more comfortable months and the summer months are not ideal because of storms and flooding.
South Vietnam: The south is also hot year-round. The wet months to avoid are from November to April and from May to October.
Best Locations for a Family Holiday in Vietnam
Choosing the right destination for a family holiday in Vietnam can be tricky. Here are some of the most family-friendly places to visit.
Danang is less hectic and much calmer than other cities in Vietnam, such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Its beaches are stunning and Son Tra mountain offers ample opportunities for adventures. There are also two fantastic theme parks to visit: Asia Park and Ba Na Hills.
The UNESCO-listed town is charming, picturesque, and relaxing. There are numerous hotels and fewer backpacker hostels compared to other places (and less of a party scene). There are numerous activities such as banana boat rides, lantern making, and cooking class which are great for families.
Halong Bay is a laid-back, sleepy beachfront town that is perfect for families looking for a relaxing destination. As there are no crowds it’s a great place to wander around and enjoy picnics. The are cruises around the bay and some fun activities such as greyhound racing and climbing Mount Nho.
Also known as ‘Halong Bay on land’, Ninh Binh is a serene rural area which offers spectacular scenery such as rice fields and limestone mountains. There are plenty of places to explore such as the caves of Cuc Phuong and mountainside temples. Hang Mua mountain is magnificent for trekking and you can go on boat rides along the Tam Coc river.
Phu Quoc is a peaceful island that is typical for family holidays. It’s home to numerous resorts and its appeal lies in its crystal waters and white, sandy beaches. Around the island, you can go fishing and snorkeling. You can visit a pearl farm and an infamous coconut prison where captured Viet Cong was held.
Health and Safety Issues for Children Traveling to Vietnam
If you are traveling to Vietnam with your family, you should follow the usual health and safety recommendations which should be followed in any country. It is essential that children drink plenty of water to maintain hydration levels, wash their hands regularly, and avoid playing with unknown animals (rabies is common in Vietnam).
Wearing high-factor sunscreen when outside is a must and it is also important to use good-quality mosquito repellent. It is advisable (for both children and adults) to see a doctor regarding vaccinations at least 6 weeks before your trip. Read more about health information and vaccines for Vietnam.
It is also essential to make sure you obtain Vietnam Visas for all the family before setting off (unless you’re from a visa-exempt country). The Vietnam eVisa application only takes a matter of minutes to complete and children under 14 can be included on their parents’ applications as long as they have their own passports. Read more about Vietnam visa requirements for children.